Water Conservation Tips

Water conservation is the most cost-effective and environmentally-sound way to reduce our demand for water.

Our practices incorporate:

Planting Your Drought Tolerant Garden booklet is available at no cost to all Districts customers at the District Office. The booklet includes irrigation information, preparing your soil and a plant list.

 

The following are several water conservation and maintenance tips:

 

Indoor Water Uses:

According to the U.S.D.A., basic indoor water consumption per person is 50-70 gallons per day.

You can calculate what your average indoor water consumption should be by taking the number of people in your household x 50-70 gallons per day. Since outdoor watering is done during the summer months, you might want to calculate and compare it with winter water use. If your basic indoor use is high, you should check for leaks or consider replacing some of your plumbing fixtures, with new low-flow devices.

  1. Bathrooms
    • Consider installing low-flow aerators in your bathroom faucets. You can save up to 3.5 gallons per minute of water.A leaking faucet can lose gallons of water every month due to the leak(s). (Calculate number of drips in 30 seconds. # of drips x 400 = gallons/month wasted). Often times it’s just a matter of replacing a worn out washer, but other times the problem could be more severe. If you are unsure about doing the repairs yourself, call a reputable plumber.

      Based on the year your toilets were installed, they probably use 5-7/3.5/1.6 gallons per flush.

      (1980 is 5-7, 1981-1991 is 3.5, 1992 is 1.6) Ultra-low-flush toilets (ULFT’s), which use only 1.6 gallons per flush, are available at home improvement stores.

      Toilet leaks can be very costly. Repairs are usually simple to do, and require inexpensive parts. Sometimes it’s just a matter of replacing a worn out flapper.

      If your house was built in (1980 is 5-7, 1981-1991 is 3.5, 1992 is 2.5) the standard flow for Shower-heads then was 5-7/3.5/2.5 gallons per minute. Today many high quality shower heads are available, which have a maximum of flow of 2.5 gallons per minute. Replacing old shower heads with new ones can save you as much as 750 gallons per month. (Example – 10-minute shower at 5 gallons per minute is 50 gallons of water used per shower. A 10-minute shower at 2.5 gallons per minute is 25 gallons of water used per shower. 50 gallons x 30 days = 1500 gallons, 25 gallons x 30 days =750 gallons, which is a 750 gallons of water per month savings).

  2. Kitchen
    • Each dishwasher load uses 14-20 gallons of water, depending on the brand and size. To save water, wash only full loads. Installing a low-flow aerator/sprayer on your kitchen sink faucet will make washing/rinsing dishes easier and save water.
  3. Laundry
    • A standard/large/extra large capacity washer, which uses 40/60/70 gallons per load. Next time you are in the market for a washing machine, consider one of the new front-loading high efficiency washing machines. They use only 21 gallons per load, and as more models come on the market their prices will come down.

 

Outdoor Water Uses:

  1. Lawns
    • Bermuda/bluegrass/ryegrass/fescue needs 3/4.5/4.5/3.5 gallons of water per month per square foot to keep it looking good. You can calculate your water usage by using this example. (Example – 3.5 gallons x 2,000 square feet of lawn = 7,000 gallons).If your lawn is on a flat area, you don’t have to worry too much about runoff. Just make sure the sprinklers are properly adjusted so they don’t spray water on walkways, driveways or other unplanted areas.

      If your lawn is on a slope you should consider using rotor/stream sprinklers because they apply the water at a much slower rate than spray or impulse (Rainbird) type sprinklers. This will prevent runoff because the soil has time to absorb the water before it runs down the driveway or out into the field. A slope that is greater than 10% may need your sprinklers to run in shifts with an hour or so between shifts.

      If your lawn is partly in the shade you probably could reduce the water used on parts of it.

      Most people water their whole lawns to keep the driest spot green, but you don’t need to do this.

      Sprinklers can be custom fit to properly water grass in sun and/or shade, narrow areas or wide areas, and southern or northern exposures. See a landscape professional about designing an efficient sprinkler system. On your own you can cut back a few minutes per watering session and see how
      well your lawn does. If small dry spots develop here and there but the rest of the lawn looks good, try hand watering the dry areas.

      You can reduce your lawn’s water requirements by cutting it taller. Bermuda can be cut 1″ deep, Bluegrass and Ryegrass can be cut 2″-2.5″ deep, and Fescue can be cut 2.5″-3″ deep.

      If your lawn gets a lot of traffic you probably will need to water and fertilize it more to promote strong growth in worn areas. Also, you won’t be able to grow it quit as tall as you could without traffic.

      If you have automatic timers, which is good because you can set them to turn on early in the morning when watering is most efficient because there is very little evaporation and no wind. There are some disadvantages to automatic watering though. Many people forget to reset the timers after the summer
      heat is over, so they end up using as much water in September and October as they did in July and August. Also, since the sprinklers are run unsupervised you may find that one of them has malfunctioned and you suddenly have a huge brown spot in your lawn, or worse, a huge water bill to pay. Sprinklers should be checked periodically, especially if they are on automatic timers.

  2. Landscaping
    • Most landscaped areas need less water than grass, so it makes sense to convert lawn area to other types of groundcover or landscape, if possible. Without knowing exactly what type of plants you have it is impossible to say how much you could save by using drought tolerant plants, however, the savings could be significant. At the District Office, look for our “Water Wise Garden”, which will shows a variety of drought tolerant plants that do well in the Hidden Valley Lake area. The District Office also provides a drought tolerant plant list.Using wood mulch in your landscaping can save a huge amount of water, but remember the wood deteriorates over time and you will need to replenish it every few years.
  3. Garden
    • Depending on what kinds of plants you are growing, on the average you will need to apply 2-5 gallons of water per square foot per month to maintain a healthy garden. This means that what you pay for water is probably more than the value of the fruits and vegetables you get out of your garden. The only suggestion is to water deeply to encourage deep root growth, which will reduce your water consumption in the long run. A soaker hose is great idea for this. Of course, when starting plants from seed you need to water lightly at least every day until the seeds germinate.Trees are expensive to replace, so they should be watered when they show signs of stress, however, many trees that are five years old or more can get by with monthly watering in the summer and no irrigation for the rest of the year. Just make sure that you water them deeply and don’t let the water
      run down gopher holes, away from where the tree roots are. Native trees should require supplemental water only in severe drought years.

 

Other Outdoor Uses:

When washing your car, use a pistol-grip nozzle, one that shuts off when you let go of it. You will reduce your water use per car wash from 200 gallons down to 20 gallons if you don’t let the water run.

A pool can use up to 3000 gallons per month if it is left uncovered. Covering it when not in use will reduce water use by 90%.

A spa can use up to 300 gallons per month if it is left uncovered. Covering it when it is not in use will reduce water use by 90%.

Leaking hose bibs can use as much water as any other leaking faucet, and often times you don’t even know they’re leaking because they are not visible. You would probably fix a leaking faucet in the kitchen before discovering a leaking hose bib, which could leak for months. If you were to leave your
hose running full-force you will use 12,000 gallons of water per day!

  1. Landscaping
    • Some of our customers have had very high water bills as a result of broken
      irrigation lines. The breaks have sometimes occurred in pipes that the customers didn’t even know they had! We recommend that you do several things to protect yourself against such a tragedy. First, protect your entire system against high pressure by installing a pressure regulator at the water meter. Most houses have a pressure regulator at the house, but will protect only the pipes inside the house.It will not protect your irrigation system. Second, walk your irrigation system periodically to look for wet spots where there should be none. Third, ask the seller for plans to the irrigation system when buying an existing house. Irrigation systems have a way of growing and changing over the years, so
      you want to be sure you know exactly what you have. Fourth, check your water meter once in awhile. Shut off everything inside and outside the house and then look at your water meter. If there is any movement you probably have a water leak somewhere. Catching a small leak early can save you from
      paying for a large leak later. And finally, when you add to your irrigation system, get professional help and use the best materials. Test everything before it is covered, make sure it is deep enough to be protected from freezing and provide a way to drain the system completely in the winter.

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